If you’re researching to build a home in Santa Fe and are wondering how to start and what’s involved in the process, then we want to provide some insight here. Building a custom home isn’t a small project and we don’t want it be a poor experience for you, which is why we want you know everything up front.
So let’s take a dive into what the traditional process for building a custom home is like and how our design-build approach is designed to make that experience better.
Understanding the Traditional Client-Architect-Contractor Relationship & Process
When it comes to building a custom home, the traditional relationship looks like a triangle with the client at one point, architect at one point and general contractor at the last point. Typically, the client would approach an architect to initiate the conceptualization and design of the project.
It’s important to note that a general contractor is not involved in the initial discovery phase or even the design phase of the project, based on the traditional relationship. Selecting a general contractor only comes after the design is complete.
The selection of a general contractor typically goes through a bid process where multiple contractors bid on the project with the most expensive bids being tossed to the side and the more affordable bids fighting for the job. This, of course, is a race to the bottom in terms of price alone.
In some cases a design is kicked back to the architect for a re-design because the contractors cannot build the designed home at a price the owners can afford. It is simply too lofty of a design for the budget.
Redesign can be a very costly experience, and can add many months to a project timeline…unnecessarily, in our opinion.
Why Is the Traditional Relationship is Often Not the Best Approach?
As we mentioned, while all three points of the triangle must be involved to complete a home build, the traditional relationships are siloed from each other. To explain this better, let’s take a look at a real-life example:
Reasons Why the Traditional Client-Architect-Contractor Relationship is Flawed:
#1 – No matter how talented an architect is and how much they know, if they are not working with a builder from the beginning of a project then there is information they will not know and anticipate. Materials, labor, and the environment all constantly change, which directly affects costs and completion. The builder knows that information and can inform the architect but only if the architect is working with the builder from the beginning.
#2 – With the traditional process, expectations are not appropriately set. Again, an architect will surely provide a beautiful design and capture what the client is dreaming of. However, if all of the other building factors are not considered then the client is getting their hopes up for something that may not be a reality. These expectations can crush a project.
#3 – In most cases, 50-75% of custom builds that start in with the traditional relationship end up having to go back through the redesign phase because of unanticipated factors, such as material and labor costs, and other factors Again, a redesign often costs the client more money and immediately delays the build process.
#4 – The traditional approach often focuses primarily on the artistic perspective with little or no focus on cost implications.. As we like to say “our goal is to design to your budget, so that your dream home will become a reality.” This approach is not exclusive of aesthetic focus, but is an informed approach emphasizing the aesthetic in the most cost effective ways possible. So understanding all of the building factors influences the design we create rather than working backward.
#5 – After a design is ready for contractors to bid on, it becomes all about hitting the budget that is often too low for the scope of the design, which causes a race to the bottom with contractors. Typically, the best builders are tossed out in the beginning because their bid is too “high,” although realistic. In this scenario, you have a beautiful design but a contractor trying to cut costs as much as possible to hit a budget. This is not a recipe for a successful and wonderful build for the client.
#6 – In some cases, a design may never be financially attainable for the client. They have hopes and dreams for a particular home, and while an architect can design the home, it may not be feasible at all for the set budget.
How We Approach Architecture & Home Building in Santa Fe:
Like we mentioned at the beginning, we are innovating this relationship simply by bringing architecture and contractors under one roof and on one team here in Santa Fe.
Since we can collaborate as designers and builders from the very first day, we can overcome the majority of pitfalls that occur in the traditional process. What does this look like?
- Expectations – we can set the right expectations from day one. No designs that won’t fit an actual budget. We can take your budget and dreams and create a realistic expectation.
- Financially Attainable – you have a set budget and dream for your home. We take both and create a plan that is attainable financially versus starting with a grand design that cannot be built for your budget. It’s our goal to make your dream a reality and attainable for you.
- Land/Lot Real Estate – we can assist you in locating and purchasing a lot that suits your goals and avoids many issues that may affect budget and timeline, such as soils, topography, utilities and jurisdictional restrictions. We can effectively prevent redesigns and delays in the design-build process, which saves you money and gets you into your home on time.
- Compliance – our goal from the moment we start discovery with you is to chart a path of compliance so your project complies with everything needed, such as ordinances, jurisdictions, easements, utilities, and beyond.
- Truly Design and Build – some firms claim to be a design/build firm but they actually hire an outside architect to come in for a project. We don’t do this. We are truly a design-build firm because we have the architect and builders on the same team here at Palo Santo Designs. We are committed to not only designing you a beautiful home but influencing your project from the beginning with true building knowledge.
- Sustainability – because of our extensive experience and expertise in the design and construction of high performance green homes, you can be assured that the design will include numerous fundamental energy and water efficiency features, passive solar design and otherwise environmentally preferable materials and methods. Sustainability is our baseline, not an add-on.